Challenges Faced by Youth Advocates for LGBTIQ Rights
Cambodia is one of the developing countries in ASEAN where there is a strong movement advocating for LGBTIQ rights. One feature of the movement is the presence and participation of young activists. In this essay, I would like to share some challenges faced by young activists who are supporting LGBTIQ rights.
Based on LGBTI young people stories, they worry about professionals and adults disclosing information about their sexual orientation or gender identity to other professionals, their peers or parents/carers. They are also concerned that professionals will take actions which they have not agreed to in response to incidents of bullying, coming out or requests for advice.
Another challenge faced is that Cambodian people still lack knowledge on human Rights, specifically on LGBTIQ rights. Getting allies to work on LGBTIQ rights require persistent education and awareness raising. Activists should remind government that they have the obligation to allow and encourage activist for sharing their concerns and to be proactive in creating a space for all sectors to be involved in social change.
There are organizations like CamASEAN having a mission of combating discrimination against minority diversity people include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ), young girls live with HIV/AIDs, sex workers, drug user, people with disability, widowed/single parent, elderly people, indigenous and other ethnic people in Cambodia and ASEAN through strengthening capacity of as many activists as possible. Working closely with these organizations will help strengthen young people’s capacity as activists.
It is my dream that all young people be closely informed about LGBTIQ issues and be open-minded in accepting our diversity as human beings.
Phanith Phao is a third year university student who is actively involved in the work of CamASEAN Youth’s Future. He is involved in human rights and democracy activism in Cambodia and in ASEAN. He found inspiration to work on ending violence against persons from minority groups.